I wanted this image to have as little retouching as possible in order to keep a more natural and organic feel, the drought is very real here is California. So here is my 12 step program.
1. Breathe. This one shot is going to take a lot of preparation and forethought. Sketch, visualize, make lists.
2.Hunt and Gather. This image evokes a natural feel. So we wanted a green surface and blue sky looking background. The green was the trickiest, and I ended up using a green grass mat for model trains and the like. Some shopping was required to get the proper vessel surface and good size plexi for the background. I also needed some monofilament line to hold the lid in its position. (The fine line was shopped out later.)
4. Collaborate. Many phone calls with the Art Director for guidance, inspiration, and collaboration.
5. Set-up. A day of painstaking set-up. Lighting will be tricky. Lots of reflections and at least 5 lights. 3 lights for the background. A soft box with a blue gel for the color wash, then two Picolites with snoots to shoot white light through the plexi and give a glow. This will be the primary light for the water. Two more Picolites for the foreground. Again I was attempting to get everything in one shot.
6. Test. I shot a test of the overall set up and lighting. Again, sending it off to the Art Director for input. I was good to go!
7. More set-up. Of course every little change on set requires tweaking of each light fill card etc. I flew in a large white card to give an overall fill on the set. Flanked on either side of the vessel was a large black flag. This creates contrast and cuts down on unwanted reflections and highlights.
8. More shopping. The pour needed to be just right -- large enough to give a nice looking pour but not so large that it would be impossible to hit the opening even time. That meant a trip to the store to find just the right thing top pour from… turned out I found a pitcher that worked just great when turned so the water flowed off the side instead of out the spout. Go figure.
9. Get technical. I use my Broncolor packs for this kind of shoot. The key is the fast flash duration. If you dial down the power you get a faster duration, so the water motion is stopped. Problem is you're on low power. I wanted to shoot at a little deeper focus, so I pumped up the ISO. This allowed me to shoot at f8.
10. Stand back and get wet. I actually shot this with one hand on my Nikon shooting in the continuous mode while my left hand was pouring into the jar.
11. Clean up and repeat.
12. In the end I used one image for the surface, one image for the pour and vessel, and one image for the background.